This is a true story of an event that occurred years ago in my hometown in New Jersey. I must warn you ahead of time, the story isn't pleasant, but maybe we can all learn something from it.
I remember when two girls in my neighborhood were killed by a boy who had some type of mental disability. They were my age, eight years old. Darlene was the dark-haired girl and she went to my school. I thought I remembered seeing her in the hallways, but couldn't say for sure. The other girl, Julie, went to a Catholic School in our town. They were playing one day in a wooded area right across from Park's Lake. I can only recall part of the newspaper article; My mother was reading it to my grandmother over the phone the day after "it" happened. She didn't think I was listening since kids shouldn't hear such evil things. The reporter wrote some chilling words that I will never forget, "..they had lived together, played together, and died together."
I'm not sure if they had a picture of Darlene in the paper, but I remember seeing Julie's. It was her First Holy Communion picture. She was wearing a white dress and a crown with a white veil. It's a shame that she would never get the chance to wear a white wedding dress, with a crown and white veil. Evil took her breath away that day.
I guess the police must have pieced together much of what had happened from the boy who did it. He came upon them playing in the woods, and when they saw him, they started to make fun of him. I guess something snapped, and that was all it took. I won't go into what happened after that, as it is much too disturbing.
The story stuck with me all of these years. As I think about it now, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if they had just been nice to him? Would that have made all the difference? Would they still be alive? They would be my age, possibly mothers and even grandmothers. What other lives never came to pass because their's ended at age eight?
Teasing is something all kids do at one time or another, so somtimes we might make light of it. Maybe we need to really talk to our children, nieces, nephews, about the danger of teasing and making fun of others. God instructs us to show love to one another. How many people are shot because of road rage and other actions that cause hate and anger?
I don't know if the girls knew this boy or not, but they had no idea he was someone they should fear. We teach our children to beware of strangers. I'm sure this boy didn't seem like a "stranger" to these girls, but just a young boy.
I think it would be a sad thing for these girls to be forgotten. Of course, their families will never forget, but that's to be expected. I'm sure the police officers investigating the crime scene will never forget what they saw.
There is a great lesson to be learned about how we should treat people who are different. I wonder what he said to them, or if he started bothering them. Maybe he didn't speak well, or walked funny. Whatever it was that caused the chain of events is irrelevant now. Those innocent girls were just children, and to put the blame on them would be a crime in itself. Their families were forever changed by this tragic event. The family of the boy also lost a child that day. He was older, perhaps a teen. He had the mind of a child but the strength of a man. I'm sure they put him away for a very long time in some hospital for the mentally ill. I wonder if he's still living. I wonder if he remembers what he had done. Even though he commited the most heinous crime imaginable, even he can still be forgiven by God. And what about the family? Have they ever forgiven this boy? Forgiveness is never easy, but if they have forgiven him then they too can be forgiven for their sins. Not easy, but releasing the bondage of hate and unforgiveness can only bring a relief and a joy that passes all understanding.
So if you read this, maybe you can say a small prayer for the families, wherever they are now. Even after all of this time, they are still missing the beautiful lives that were taken from them. Wouldn't they be blessed that somebody somewhere still remembered.
God can heal hearts and bring joy, even in the midst of a tragic event such as this. Those beautiful little girls have been dancing in Heaven all of these years..never to cry another tear, or experience anymore hurt or pain. It's the loved ones left behind that really need what only the Lord can give...peace.